Phanaeus sylvanus Castelnau, 1840 : 80

Maldaner, Maria E., Cupello, Mario, Ferreira, Daniela C. & Vaz-De-Mello, Fernando Z., 2017, Type specimens and names assigned to Coprophanaeus (Megaphanaeus) d’Olsoufieff, 1924, the largest New World dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Phanaeini), Zootaxa 4272 (1), pp. 83-102 : 91-93

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Phanaeus sylvanus Castelnau, 1840 : 80


Phanaeus sylvanus Castelnau, 1840: 80 . Available name.

Type specimens: Unknown to us. Certainly, it was a syntype series (rather than just a holotype), since Castelnau (1840) described differences among sexes. See discussion below.

Type locality: ‘ Brésil ’ ( Castelnau 1840).

Nomenclatural history: In Histoire naturelle des Insectes Coléoptères, Castelnau (1840) described four species related to the modern concept of Megaphanaeus : Phanaeus ducalis , from ‘ Brésil ’, which he recognized as being a new species described by him, P. sylvanus , from ‘ Brésil ’, P. heros and P. miles , both from ‘ Cayenne ’, the latter three names cited by him as from ‘ Dej. Coll. ’. Indeed, they are listed in both the second ( Dejean 1833 – 1836) and the third ( Dejean 1836 –1837) editions of Dejean’s catalogue of the Coleoptera present in his collection. The name sylvanus , in particular (which was spelled as silvanus in the catalogue’s last two editions), was cited also in the first edition in combination with genus Copris Geoffroy, 1762 ( Dejean 1821) . Nonetheless, as Dejean (1821, 1833 – 1836, 1836 –1837) only listed names without any description, illustration or indication, he failed in giving availability to them in light of the modern Code (Article 12) and he cannot be deemed as their author. The first author to provide a proper description for those names was Castelnau (1840). For this reason, Castelnau was the person who gave availability to these names and who should be cited as their author, despite the fact that he himself has credited them to Dejean (see Bousquet & Bouchard’s [2013] discussion on the authorship of Dejean’s names).

The whereabouts of Castelnau’s collection and type specimens are a tricky question. His first private collection and library, gathered by him until 1841, was donated by Castelnau himself to the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, forerunner of the today’s Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., United States of America, to where they arrived in January and February 1842 ( Evenhuis, 2012). However, nowadays there is no trace of this collection at the Smithsonian. As argued by Evenhuis (2012), Castelnau’s specimens were probably consumed by the great fire occurred at the main hall of the Smithsonian Institution on the 24th of January, 1865.

Therefore, if the type specimens of Phanaeus sylvanus and of the other three names described by Castelnau (1840) have ever been deposited there, they were probably destroyed.

In 1848, Castelnau started an official diplomatic career for the French government and was sent as its consul to Bahia, Brazil . After other posts in Cape Town and Bangkok, he eventually moved to the then British colony of Australia as the consul general in Melbourne, and there he stayed for the rest of his life ( Cambefort 2006; Evenhuis 2012). After his death in 1880, part of his final collection was left to the National Museum of Victoria, Melbourne. The portion remaining in Paris (probably formed between 1841, when he donated the first collection to the US, and 1848, when he left to Brazil) was auctioned in 1863 by the insect dealers Henri Deyrolle, in Paris, and Edward Wesley Janson, in London ( Cambefort 2006), and, then, scattered throughout Europe ( Horn & Kahle 1935; Cambefort 2006; Evenhuis 2012).

The possibility that the type specimens of P. sylvanus and of the other three names are housed in the Melbourne museum is, in our opinion, almost null. Since Castelnau described them in 1840, therefore one year before the donation of his first collection to the National Institute, we do not believe they could be deposited in his Australian collection. In his revision of Phanaeus, Edmonds (1994) reached the same conclusion and wrote that, although ‘many phanaeines ( Phanaeus and related genera) exist in the Castelnau Collection at the National Museum of Victoria’, this collection does not include any specimen that ‘can reasonably be taken as typical’. In the revision of Oxysternon Castelnau, 1840 , however, Edmonds & Zídek (2004) went in a different direction and recognized some putative syntypes in Melbourne of two names described by Castelnau (1840): O. palemo (unjustifiably emended to palaemon by Nevinson [1892], but in prevailing usage with Castelnau’s authorship) and O. silenus ; no supposed syntypes of the other name established by Castelnau (1840) in Oxysternon , i.e. O. spiniferum , were found by them. Nevertheless, we are sceptical about Edmonds & Zídek (2004) recognition of those Melbourne specimens as Castelnau’s type specimens. We have no reason to believe that any phanaeine specimen in Melbourne museum was studied by Castelnau for his 1840 descriptions and the historical evidence, in our opinion, shows otherwise. Now that Evenhuis (2012) has published a detailed account of the history of Castelnau’s collections, we think that Edmonds & Zídek (2004) lectotype designations for O. palemo and O. silenus should be readdressed and Arnaud’s (2003) neotype designation for them may be considered as pertinent.

As said above, the portion of Castelnau’s second collection that remained in Paris was sold to several different entomologists in 1863. According to Horn & Kahle (1935), the ‘Lamellicornia’ part was purchased by Johan Wilhelm van Lansberge and, years later, the ‘ premier choix ’ (the first choice) of van Lansberge’s collection was bought by René Oberthür, while Jacob Rudolph Hendrik Neervoort van de Poll took the remaining specimens ( Cambefort 2006). Oberthür’s Coleoptera collection was purchased in 1952 by the Museum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris, and among its more than 5 million specimens, there were present tens of thousands of type specimens (Horn et al. 1990; Cambefort 2006), including some described by Castelnau ( Arnaud 2002a, 2003; Horn et al. 1990; Puker et al. 2014). Van de Poll’s collection, in turn, was sold and divided into several smaller parts after its owner’s death and now specimens from it are encountered in most of the largest museums in Europe, including those in London, Manchester, Oxford, Paris, Berlin, Bonn, Leiden and Milan, and also in other continents ( Horn & Kahle 1936; Horn et al. 1990), and in private collections ( FZVM personal observation) . FZVM, while visiting European collections between 2013 and 2014, was able to recognize Castelnau’s dung beetle types in four museums: Brussels, Paris, London and Oxford. However, in none of them syntypes of P. sylvanus or of any of the three Castelnau’s names related to Megaphanaeus were found.

Since Castelnau (1840) mentioned ‘ Dej. Coll.’ as his source of information for the description of P. sylvanus , P. heros and P. miles , it is possible that their type specimens were deposited in Dejean’s collection rather than in Castelnau’s (in fact, many Castelnau’s Scarabaeinae types were recognized by FZVM from the presence of Dejean’s labels). Even so, with just one possible exception, our searches were again fruitless. As happened to van de Poll’s, Dejean’s collection was sold in parts in 1840 and now its specimens are scattered throughout Europe ( Horn & Kahle 1935; Horn et al. 1990; Cambefort 2006; Bousquet & Bouchard 2013). In none of the collections visited by us have we found a specimen that could be linked to Castelnau’s names of Megaphanaeus . Giachino’s (1982) catalogue of the Coleoptera collection of the Italian entomologist Massimiliano Spinola (1780–1857), however, listed the presence of three specimens identified as ‘ Phanaeus sylvanus ’, from ‘ Cayenne ’ (not ‘ Brésil ’, as cited by Castelnau [1840]). As explained by Giachino, Spinola’s collection, now housed in the Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali, Turin, is of special importance because, among other factors, it includes 28 boxes coming originally from Dejean’s collection. Although these boxes contain only Chrysomelidae specimens, specimens belonging to other groups in Spinola’s collection have labels indicating their origin from Dejean collection. However, those three specimens lack information about original collection ( Giachino 1982: p. 224). For that reason, we decided not to designate one of the Spinola’s specimens as the lectotype of P. sylvanus and consider the whereabouts of the syntypes of this name as unknown.

The first author to cite P. sylvanus in synonymy with P. bellicosus was Harold (1869) and, since then, it has never been cited as a valid name again (e.g., Nevinson 1892; Gillet 1911; d'Olsoufieff 1924; Pessôa 1934; Blackwelder 1944; Edmonds & Zídek 2010).














Phanaeus sylvanus Castelnau, 1840 : 80

Maldaner, Maria E., Cupello, Mario, Ferreira, Daniela C. & Vaz-De-Mello, Fernando Z. 2017

Phanaeus sylvanus

Castelnau 1840: 80